MOST CANCERS ARE PREVENTABLE:
TAKING ADVANTAGE OF THE LATEST RESEARCH DISCOVERIES
Andreas M. Papas, Ph.D.
Cancer is the number two killer in the United States after heart disease. The National Cancer Institute estimates that over 1.2 million new cases are diagnosed every year. Free radicals, harmful reactive molecules in our body, increase the risk of cancer by damaging the DNA that results in the production of abnormal cells. Poor diet, smoking, ozone, excessive alcohol consumption and other environmental and health stressors increase the production of free radicals.
The good news is that most cancers are preventable with healthy lifestyle and proper nutrition including supplements. Diets rich in fruits and vegetables reduce the risk of many cancers. Diets low in saturated fats and high in fiber are associated with a lower incidence of colorectal, prostate, breast and some other cancers. Thestrong association of diet and cancer prompted researchers to search for nutrients and phytochemicals, especially antioxidants that would help prevent cancer. The results to date have been extremely promising.
Vitamin E, the master antioxidant, and selenium lead the pack. However, consuming the right form of vitamin E family is critical for reducing the risk of cancer. Unlike some vitamins, which consist only of a single compound, vitamin E consists of eight different compounds, four tocopherols and four tocotrienols (designated as alpha, beta, gamma and delta). Our food contains all eight compounds. Most vitamin E supplements on the market today, however, contain only alpha-tocopherol, commonly as the synthetic, esterified form. The National Academy of Sciences officially recognized the significant advantage of the natural form of vitamin E over the synthetic.
Recent research shows that gamma-tocopherol and the tocotrienols have very important and unique roles. Only products that contain the complete vitamin E family - tocopherols plus tocotrienols - provide the full spectrum of benefits. The typical American diet does not supply the levels necessary to promote wellness and prevent disease. This means that individuals must supplement their diet with the complete vitamin E family to achieve the health benefits shown in research studies.
"In a study of over 29,000 elderly male smokers, vitamin E supplementation for six years resulted in a 32% reduction in prostate cancer and a 41% reduction in prostate cancer deaths as compared to placebo. There was also a 16 percent reduction in colon cancer.
"In another study conducted by Johns Hopkins University, researchers evaluated the effect of serum levels of alpha and gamma-tocopherol and selenium on the risk of prostate cancer. Men with the highest levels of gamma-tocopherol (top 20%) had a fivefold reduction in the risk of developing prostate cancer when compared to those with the lowest levels (bottom 20%).